European Updates

By Marco Bratusch

Some significant changes happened over the last two days in the super middleweight division concerning the European title. Former champion Hadillah Mohoumadi chose to vacate his belt despite a lucrative offer made by official challenger Stas Kashtanov’s promoter of 50,000 Euros to stage their bout in Russia. The 37-year-old Mohoumadi opted to fight against MK Events’ stablemate fighter Nadjib Mohammadi instead, for a WBA regional belt, on March 30 in Levallois-Perret, France. As a result, Kashtanov (36-2, 21 KOs) will be facing German-naturalized boxer Robin Krasniqi (47-5, 17 KOs) for the vacant belt, who accepted to be named co-challenger this morning. The purse bid is set for March 5, if the involved parties do not come to terms earlier. This will be a close technical bout between two skilled, orthodox boxers who like to use their reach inside the ring.

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In the welterweight division, Spanish hot prospect Kerman Lejarraga (24-0, 19) has finally found his dance partner in rangy Brit Bradley Skeete (27-1, 12 KOs), promoted by Queensberry Promotions, in order to fight on March 24 in Bilbao, northern Spain, for the vacant belt. In this case it’s not about winning the rights to stage the bout, since the respective purse bid was scheduled for March 5 in Rome, but the British firm and the Spanish counterpart of MGZ Promotions finalized a private agreement for this bout, which represents a very interesting clash of styles with implied differences in terms of power and a fairly different levels of oppositions faced so far by the two boxers.

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Last Saturday, IBF Inter-Continental super middlewight champion Vincent Feigenbuz (28-2, 25 KOs) retained his belt via sixth round TKO victory against Ryno Liebenberg (18-6, 12 KOs) in Ludwigsburg, Germany, where the contest topped a Sauerland promoted boxing show. The champion had to go through some difficult moments during the fight, and some controversy arose at the time of the stoppage.

It was a hard-fought, pretty balanced contest between two powerful, similarly built fighters who basically stood in front of one another in the opening stage, throwing, blocking and landing short combinations. Little footwork has been used to control the distance. The South African challenger, however, soon proved to be the bigger and stronger man. Round three was a tough one for Feigenbutz, who took his time to absorb a vicious body shot from Liebenberg and then back-pedaled for the rest of the round, managing to weather the storm but taking other solid uppercuts from the inside. The young German come back in round four, as he landed some good, crisp shots while still on his back foot because of Liebenberg’s pressure and growing confidence. Liebenberg’s forehead was deeply cut in the middle at the beginning of round five and started to bleed copiously. However, the challenger continued to pursue Feigenbutz, aiming to his body at close range while referee Massimiliano Bianco warned him not to push his head out too much. At the end of a rough sixth round, the referee stopped the contest after having Liebenberg’s cut visited three times.

The South African’s cornermen protested as they wanted the fight to go to the scorecards considering the wound had come from a clash of heads, but apparently the referee judged the cut as the consequence of a fair blow landed by Feigenbutz and the German won the fight by technical knockout according to the IBF rules. If the bout had gone to the scorecards, it would have been fair to presume that Liebenberg would have been slightly ahead for what it was seen in that first part of the fight.

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Next Friday in Rome, Italy, Alessandro Goddi and Polish boxer Kamil Szeremeta (16-0, 2 KOs) will square off for the vacant European middleweight title, a belt that former titlist Emanuele Blandamura vacated two weeks ago so as to grab the opportunity of a world title challenge versus WBA 160-pound regular champion Ryota Murata on April 14th in Tokyo, Japan. It is fair to figure out that Goddi (33-2-1, 16 KOs), who faced Blandamura in a voluntary defense in 2017 losing a competitive decision, will be the aggressor and his co-challenger from Eastern Europe will try to lure him with footwork and smart boxing, having good legs but limited power. In the co-feature bout, former European 135-pound champion Emiliano Marsili (35-0-1, 14 KOs) is pitted against once-beaten Mexican Victor Betancourt (22-1, 10 KOs) over twelve rounds in a fight that the WBC sanctioned as “Peace” world title, referring to the two devastating earthquakes that hit the countries recently.

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On Saturday, former WBA regular world title Giovanni De Carolis (25-8-1, 13 KOs), aged 33, will take on local prospect Bilal Akkawy (16-0-1, 14 KOs) in Sydney, Australia, as the first defense of Akkawy’s WBA Oceania belt, a title which Akkawy won twice. It really appears to be a swim or sink fight for De Carolis, who clearly lost his last two fights out of three, coming back with an easy victory over a journeyman last month near Rome, Italy. Akkawy, a compact built fighter, is young, active and dangerous at mid-range with his heavy hands although has not faced any opponent as battle-tested as De Carolis yet, and the bout seems a clear step up for him at this stage.

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European Union (EU) junior middleweight titleholder Maxim Beaussire (25-1-1, 9 KOs) will take on seasoned Italian Lenny Bottai (26-4, 10 KOs) in a mandatory defense of his title on next Saturday in Zenith, France. The 26-year-old local fighter is normally an aggressor while the 40-year-old Bottai, a former two-time national champion, usually prefers to box out of range.

Jacobs-Sulecki/Miller-Duhaupas kickoff presser
Klitschko trainer Banks to train Granat